Saturday, December 04, 2004

HOT - as in HOT Peppers.

It's 7:45 AM as I sit here at the PC typing my latest BLOG recipe, and eating a burrito stuffed with Joseph's and my favorite Green Chili with pork, smothered with guacomole, chopped tomatoes, onion, and a little 'hot' sauce. I'm a glutton for punishment, but I love food. I'll pay for it the next day. They say ice cream curbs the "day after." Only thing I never figured out is whether to eat the ice cream, or apply it to pertinent body parts!!

'Hotness' in peppers is measured in Scoville units which was developed by Wilbur Scoville in 1912 - the higher the number, the hotter the pepper. A few examples: Green Bell Pepper = 0 units; Jalapeno ranges from 2,500 - 10,000 units; Habanero/Scotch Bonnet = 80,000-300,000 units; and the Thai Hot Pepper = 500,000 units and up. One has to be cautious when handling these devilish vegetables; rubber or latex gloves are recommended. AND, there are other peppers that range from 0 - up to 650,000 units and everything in between.

A few things to remember when cooking with hot peppers:

* If cooking in a crock pot, the intensity nearly doubles
* Frozen foods that contain hot peppers will also double in intensity
* Simple, refrigerated leftovers will also increase in hotness.

You have to be very cautious how many of the hot peppers you use in food, as it may surprise you in the end result.

Habanero peppers are delicious, have a great flavor, and are easy to grow; they are very prolific. We had four plants this past summer and they yeilded at least 60 peppers per plant. Needless to say, we have jars and jars of them. Even sold a bunch to the local Amish Farmer's Market.

Here's a recipe for Habanero Relish for those of you who like grilled 'burgers. This relish loses its hotness when put on a grilled 'burger, but adds an incredible flavor. Don't ask me why, because I don't know. It is, however, a gourmet addition to a burger.

Habanero Pepper Relish

12 habanero peppers, stems and seeds removed, finely chopped
1 cup chopped onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 cup shredded carrots
1/4 cup distilled vinegar
1/4 cup lime juice

Saute the onion and garlic in a little oil until soft; add the carrots with a small amount of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until carrots are soft. Place the mixture and raw chiles into a blender and coarsely chop. Don't cook the peppers, since cooking reduces flavor of the Habaneros. Combine the peppers with vinegar and lime juice, then simmer for 5 minutes and seal in sterilized bottles.Heat index : 9 on a scale of 1-10. Yields about 2 cups

Finding The Right Spice

Finding the Right Spice

Anyone who cooks or bakes, most likely skips over recipes that you would like to try, but cannot find - or have never heard of - a spice or seasoning that the recipe calls for. I know one of many recipes that I wanted to try calls for powdered oregano; not to be found! We have a 12 Sq. Ft. cabinet of mixed and various spices, and it's still too small. You can never have enough spices or seasonings.

There are hundreds of spice sites out there for what you need. I would recommend finding a spice distributor that handles FRESH spices and spice mixtures, and avoiding companies that offer seeds such as kalonji or charnushka that are old and tasteless.

Take a gander at on-line catalogues; you will find what you need and be pleasantly surprised.